This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.
~ Joshua 1:8, Psalm 1:2
I will remember the works of the LORD: surely I will remember thy wonders of old. I will meditate also of all thy work, and talk of thy doings. My meditation of him shall be sweet: I will be glad in the LORD. I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways. How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee. I remember the days of old; I meditate on all thy works; I muse on the work of thy hands. I stretch forth my hands unto thee: my soul thirsteth after thee, as a thirsty land. Selah.
~ Psalm 77:11-12, Psalm 104:34, Psalm 119:15, Psalm 139:17-18, Psalm 143:5-6
Horror hath taken hold upon me because of the wicked that forsake thy law. And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, saith the LORD of hosts. Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments.
~ Psalm 119:53, Malachi 4:3
The Art of Divine Meditation, Or, A Discourse of the Nature, Necessity, and Excellency Thereof. With Motives to, and Rules for the Better Performance of That Most Important Christian Duty. In Several Sermons On Genesis 24:63: And Isaac went out to meditate in the field at the eventide: and he lifted up his eyes, and saw, and, behold, the camels were coming.
By Edmund Calamy.
And therefore that I might awaken my self and you, give me leave to show you the great necessity of practicing the duty of meditation; and I will show it two manner of ways.
1. By considering the mischief that flows from the want of practicing this duty.
2. By showing you the advantage and spiritual benefit that you will gain by practicing this duty.
1. I shall show you the woeful inconveniences, and the intolerable mischiefs that come from the want of practicing this duty of meditation. I will bring them to two heads.
1. I will show you, that the want of practicing this duty is the cause of all sin.
2. It is the cause of all punishment.
1. I will show you, that the want of practicing this duty is the cause of all sin: and I will instance in particulars.
1. The reason why people harden their hearts in sin, and do not repent of their sins, but go on obstinately, is for want of meditation. Jeremiah 8. 6. I hearkened and heard, but they spake not aright, no man repented him of his wickedness, saying, what have I done? They did not repent, because they did not reflect upon what they did; they did not bethink themselves, so the phrase is, If any man bethink himself and repent, 1 King. 8. 47. they did not say, I am undone by what I have done; I have lost God and Heaven by what I have done; and if I do not repent, I am an undone creature forever. No man repented of his wickedness, because no man considered what he had done; for did you consider the evil that is in sin, did you dwell and abide upon it, did you commune with your own hearts, and seriously consider what an evil and bitter thing it is to sin against God, you durst not willingly sin against God; but the reason why men go on rashly, heedlesly, obstinately in sin, is for want of the meditation of the evil of sin.
2. The reason why all the Sermons we hear do us no more good, is for want of Divine meditation; for it is with Sermons as it is with meat, it is not the having of meat upon your table will feed you, but you must eat it; and not only eat it, but concoct it, and digest it, or else your meat will do you no good: So it is with Sermons, it is not the hearing Sermons will do you good, but it is the concocting them, digesting them by meditation; the pondering in your hearts what you hear, must do you good. And one Sermon well digested, well-meditated upon, is better than twenty Sermons without meditation. As for example, a little meat well digested will nourish a man more than a great deal of meat if it breed raw humours, if it doth not digest; it is the digesting of meat nourishes a man: Now meditation is that that will digest all the Sermons you hear. There are some men sick of a disease, that whatsoever they eat comes up presently, the meat never doth them any good; so it is the custom of many of you, you hear a Sermon, you go away, and never think of it afterward; this is just like meat that you vomit up. There is a disease that some men have, that all the meat they eat goes thorough them, it never abides with them; now this meat never nourishes: so it is with the Sermons you hear, I am sure on the week-day, and I am afraid the Sermons you hear on the Sabbath-day go thorough you, you hear them, and hear them, and that is all you do; but you never seek by meditation to root them in your hearts; and that is the reason why you are so lean in grace, though you are so full fed with Sermons; it is with Sermons as it is with a Plaster, if a man hath a wound in his body, and lay a plaster to the wound, this plaster will never heal him, unless it abide upon the wound; if a man takes it away as soon as ever it is laid on, it will never do him any good; so it is with Sermons: if when you have heard a Sermon, you never ponder and meditate on it, it is just like a plaster put on, and then pulled off again; and I am confident the great reason why we have so many lean hunger-starved Christians, that are lean in knowledge, and lean in grace, though they hear Sermon upon Sermon, (it may be on the Sabbath-day they will hear four or five Sermons) is because they concoct and digest nothing; they never ponder and meditate upon what they hear; and this is that that our Saviour Christ speaks of: by the seed that was sown by the high-way-side, is meant a man, that hears the word, and never thinks of it after he hath heard it, but suffereth the Devil to steal it out of his heart; as the husbandman that sows the seed in the high-way, you know he never plows it, he never looks that that should come to any thing. There are many of you, the Sermons you hear are like the seed sown in the high-way, you never cover it by meditation, you never think of it, when you have heard it; and that is the reason you get no more good by what you hear.
3. The reason why the promises of God do no more affect your hearts, when the Saints of God taste no more sweetness in the promises, is because you do not ponder and meditate upon them. It is with the Promises of the Gospel as it is with a cordial, if a man doth not chew his cordial but swallow it down whole, he will never taste any great sweetness, in it; the way to taste the sweetness is to chew it; so the Promises of God are full of Heavenly comfort, but you will never enjoy this comfort unless you chew them by meditation. As it is with spices, unless they be bruised, they never smell sweet; and as it is with a Pomander, unless you do rub it, you will never smell the sweetness of it; no more will you ever taste the Heavenly comfort that is in the Promises of the Gospel, unless you rub them, unless 34 you bruise, unless you chew them by meditation. And the reason why the Saints of God walk so uncomfortably all their lives long, is because they do not chew these Promises.
4. The reason why the threatenings of God make no more impression upon our hearts, is for want of meditation. There are terrible threatenings against sin in the word, but alas there are few people affected with these threatenings. The threatenings of God in Scripture are like the rattling of hail upon the tiles, they make a great noise, but they make no impression; and what is the reason? it is for want of meditation; we do not lay them to heart, we do not consider that these threatenings belong to us, as long as we continue in our sins. Oh did a wicked man meditate solemnly upon the threatenings of God, it would make his heart ache, especially when the spirit of bondage goes along with them.
5. The reason why the mercies of God do no more good upon us, is for want of meditation. There are many mercies that all of us have received from God, many personal mercies, and many family-mercies, and all these mercies are so many motives to service. Now what is the reason the Saints of God bury the mercies of God in forgetfulness, and are no more thankful for mercies? the reason is for want of meditation, Isa. 1. 2, 3. Hear, oh heavens, and give ear, oh earth, for the Lord hath spoken: I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me; the ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his masters crib, but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider: That is the reason why they are so unthankful. It is with the mercies of God as it is with the fire, if a man walks by the fire and doth not sit at it, it will never heat him much; if he be a cold, he must abide at the fire, or else he will never be hot; so it is not a slight thought of the mercies of God that will affect your hearts, but it must be a dwelling upon them by meditation, that will warm your hearts. Now because we do not meditate upon these mercies, we do not solemnly consider the mercies of God, therefore it is they do no more good upon our hearts, Psalm 106. there is a Psalm spent on purpose to set out the unthankfulness of the people of Israel, verse 3. We have sinned with our fathers, we have committed iniquity, we have done wickedly; our fathers understood not thy wonders in Egypt, they remembered not the multitude of thy mercies, but provoked him at the Sea, even at the Red-sea. What is the reason they were so unthankful? it was because they did not meditate on the mercies of God.
6. The reason why afflictions do work no more upon us, and why we are never the better for the afflicting hand of God, is for want of meditation: It is a rare Text, Eccles. 7. 14. In the day of prosperity be joyful, but in the day of adversity consider. Times of affliction are times of meditation; and what must we consider of in the day of adversity? we must consider who it is that afflicts us, and why we are afflicted, and how we shall do to have our afflictions sanctified; we must consider the meaning of Gods rod, and how we may be taught by these afflictions spiritual things. Now because we do not meditate upon God, and upon his afflicting hand when we are afflicted, because we have slight heads under our afflictions, therefore it is we get no more good by our afflictions. I have observed many of us (the Lord pardon it unto us) as soon as ever we are recovered from our afflictions, we forget God presently, we never consider the mercies of God in recovering us, and then we return to our old vomit again, for want of meditation.
7. The reason why the Providences of God take no more impression upon our hearts, is for want of this grace of meditation: The Providences of God are very mysterious, and God in the Government of the World doth walk in the Clouds. And truly I am very confident, that which God doth especially require of his children in these days, is to meditate upon his Providences, as well as upon his Ordinances; there are many rare lessons to be learned from the consideration of the Providences of God, the Providence of God toward England, and toward Scotland, and toward the Ministry; God is now depriving you of Minister upon Minister, many Ministers the Lord hath taken from you; God is, as I may so speak, disburdening the Nation of this great burden of the Ministry, which is a burden to a great many; God takes his Ministers up to Heaven. Now what is the reason that the Providences of God of late years do no more good, though they have been wonderful toward England, Scotland, and Ireland, towards all sorts of people? The reason why we are never the better by them, is because we do not study the meaning of all these Providences, Isa. 57. 1. The righteous perisheth, and no man layeth it to heart, and merciful men are taken away, none considering that the righteous is taken away from the evil to come. This is the reason why we get no more good by the death of the godly, and by the Providences of God, because we do not lay them to heart; we do not muse and study upon them.
8. What is the reason that the Saints of God are so distrustful of Gods Providences? when they are ready presently to sink, and to say they are undone? It is for want of meditation; and therefore Christ, Luke 12. saith, Take no thought what you shall eat, or what you shall put on; consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap, which neither have store-house nor barn, and God feedeth them; how much more are ye better than the fowls? Consider the lillies how they grow, they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Did you consider the lillies, and the ravens, did you study the love of God to you, you would not distrust him under any sad Providences. The reason why the Saints of God are so full of unbelief, when they are in a low condition, is for want of meditation; they do not consider the ravens, and the lillies, they do not study the Promises that God hath made to his children in their lowest condition.
9. The reason why the professors of Religion are so censorious of other men, and so little censorious of themselves, why they judge every man, and examine every man but themselves, (which is the condition of these days) it is for want of meditation. Matthew 7. Judge not that ye be not judged: for with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure you mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brothers eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thy own eye? If men did reflect more upon themselves, they would censure themselves more, and others less. And the reason why people are so rash in censuring, is for want of self-reflection.
10. The reason why professors of Religion do offer the sacrifices of fools to God, when they come to worship him; why they pray headily and rashly, why they rush upon Ordinances without preparation, is for want of meditation, Eccles. 5. 1. Keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God, and be more ready to hear than to offer the sacrifices of fools, for they consider not that they do evil. Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thy heart be hasty to utter any thing before God. Why do people rush upon Sacraments without preparation, rush upon Sermons, rush upon Prayer, rush upon holy Duties? why, they do not consider what they do.
11. What is the reason that people prepare no more for death? Because they do not consider the shortness of life. They do not meditate of the vanity of this life, of the certainty and uncertainty of death; and therefore it is said, Deut. 32. 29. Oh that they were wise, that they understood this, that they would consider their latter end! Because men do not consider their latter end, therefore it is that they are so unprepared for their latter end.
12. And lastly, What is the reason that we come so unworthily to the Sacrament? and when we are there, we gaze up and down, and carry our selves so unseemly at that Ordinance? what is the reason that we lose all the fruit of that Ordinance, but merely for want of preparation before we come, and meditation when we are come? now preparation cannot be without meditation; preparation includes meditation in it.